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A History of Baitcasting in America

Although not my usual fare, today I’m featuring A History of Baitcasting in America by Emmett J. Babler.

A History of Baitcasting in America* by Emmett J. Babler

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

For full disclosure, Emmett is an acquaintance, and because I’ve heard about this book from almost the time of its inception, I’ve been curious to see how it turned out. I should also disclose that I’m not a fishing expert.

What is Baitcasting?

Baitcasting is one of the five types of angling. The others are still fishing, fly fishing, spinning, and spincasting. The key aspect of baitcasting is a specific kind of reel that must be controlled when the line is released. If not properly controlled, the line can loop and tangle, which experts call “backlash.” Its main advantage is that is it useful for heavier lures and heavier fish, although it can also be better under certain fishing conditions than other methods.

History of Baitcasting

The book starts with some background about the history of fishing — or more properly, angling — in Britain and then in the colonies. For example, the author reveals that George Washington enjoyed angling. In the early 1800s, baitcasting made its debut in Kentucky as a way to improve bass fishing.  From there, it spread throughout the country.

Emmett documents the changes/advancements to the equipment and techniques up to modern day, as well as the people who made them happen. He includes information about developments in fishing line, rods, and lures, too. Anglers used silk line prior to the discovery of Dacron. It seems like silk would be flimsy, but it was braided in a special way. It did deteriorate if left wet, which would possibly be an advantage. If you’ve ever walked along the shoreline of a popular fishing spot, you know what I mean.

I appreciate that Emmett has included information on the status of the fish populations over time, as well. It was surprising how early in our history the fish numbers began to decline. As more and more people started angling, over-fishing became an issue. Environmental factors also caused fish numbers to decline in many areas. Conservation soon became necessary, with stricter rules or codes to protect the fish.

This is a complete and well-researched book. The back matter includes “Works Cited,” “A Tribute to Stanley Fagerstrom,” and an Index.

Overall, A History of Baitcasting in America is engaging and informative. Anglers will find it particularly useful, but anyone interested in history may enjoy it, too.

If you’d like to learn more or contact Emmett J. Babler, be sure to visit his website.

pond-History of Baitcasting




Spring #Bloggiesta 2018 Mini-Challenge: Cleaning Up Categories

As one of the mini-challenges for the Spring 2018 Bloggiesta, Berls suggested organizing Tags, Categories and Labels on your blog. It’s a Mystery is my newest blog, so I thought it was somewhat tidy. After taking a look, however, it was obvious the categories need some work.


Spring Bloggiesta

Before organization:


Two categories stand out right away that could be removed:  Revision and Wrap-up Poll. There’s only one post under revision and it clearly belongs in the writing category. What was I thinking that day?

The Wrap-up polls are part of the Bestseller Code reading challenge that didn’t really work out, so they are no longer important enough to warrant a category.

Also, Berls recommends you shouldn’t have any posts in the Uncategorized category and I have several. Oops.

What kind of category is Fiction Review? It should be broken down by genre instead.

Mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense categories are not clear cut. There is a lot of overlap between those genres. I’ll have to check how other people handle them.  Any suggestions?

The Bestseller Code category books should probably also be categorized by genre, which means adding historical fiction, romance, and literary fiction categories at least.

Spring Bloggiesta 2018 Mini-Challenge Results

Wow, this is more work than I thought it would be, but I can see how it will improve a visitor’s experience to have the categories cleaned up and accurate.

Check out my sidebar for the results of organizing my categories for the Spring Bloggiesta challenge.

#BestsellerCode100: Number 64. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker

This post does not contain spoilers.


Beautiful Ruins* by Jess Walker

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Touted both as literary and a historical romance, Beautiful Ruins follows the lives of five people, including Pasquale Tursi and a young movie star named Dee Moray, who meet by chance in an Italian village. Years later Pasquale comes to Hollywood to find her.


beautiful ruins

Have you read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 63. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011) – Discussion begins April 2, 2018
Literary fiction, won the Man Booker prize

#Bloggiesta Spring 2018 Mini Challenge: Your Blog Security Plan

Blog security is something you probably wish you didn’t need to think about, but these days it is necessary because you may be vulnerable regardless of the size or activity level of your site.

For this Bloggiesta mini-challenge, develop a security plan for your blog and then share link to your post — or at least a few details — in the comments, if you like.



Because each blogging platform is different, your blog security plan will be unique. To get you started, however, let’s go over some basics.

1. Always install updates immediately

No matter what platform you use, always be sure to install any software updates immediately. Many times the updates are issued to fix security vulnerabilities.

2. http Versus https

You may have noticed that a lot of commercial websites and blogs have changed the beginning part of the URL to “https.” What does that mean and should you do the same?

Http stands for “hypertext transfer protocol” and it is how linked text/data is transferred around the Internet. Nowadays hackers can intercept that information as it is moving from place to place and use it for their own purposes. For example, they might intercept a password and use it to gain access to your blog. To prevent unintended access, the information is encrypted or converted into a code. When the transfers are encrypted, it is called “https” or “http secure.”

If your blog is on a hosting service like or Blogger, it may already have been upgraded to https without your knowledge. Check the URL of your blog in your browser. The symbol of the lock (green) also means it is secure.

If you have a blogspot domain and it isn’t https yet, https for blogspot domains explains how to make the upgrade.

WordPress Self-hosted

For WordPress self-hosted blogs, how to make your site https or secure will be more complicated and will depend on your hosting server. Typically you will need to obtain a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Your host may let you use theirs or you may have to register you own with a service like Let’s Encrypt (or see this review of 5 services).

Whatever you do, always back up your blog prior to making these changes. After you make the conversion, all the URLs in your blog/website will change to https. Your browser will give you an error, however, when you load any internal http links that didn’t change automatically.  All the internal links will have to be changed from http to https, including those for images.

To fix this problem, you need to do two things:

  • Set up 301 Permanent Redirect for the page URLs.
  • Search the entire website for http and change it to https (unless it is a link to an external site, which wouldn’t have changed).

For WordPress sites, you can use search and replace plugin to change it all at once. Examples of these type of plugins are Search & Replace and Better Search Replace.

Sound complicated and a lot of work? You may wonder if you really need to do it. That is a good question, but a tough one to answer. It is likely https will be required at some point in the future (Remember when Google required all blogs and websites to be mobile-friendly?) At this point you should at least read up on it and have a plan in place in case it becomes required.

Additional Blog Security Tips

  1. Back up your site regularly
  2. Use strong passwords, with mixes of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  3. Consider Two step authentication for blogs, if you have a mobile device
  4. Install security plugins — 10 Best WordPress Plugins 2018 at WP Blog
  5. Use the plugin to limit the number of failed login attempts a user can make
  6. Keep your personal computer secure by installing and using antivirus software
  7. Don’t login to your blog dashboard using public WiFi.
  8. Delete old plugins that you don’t use.
For WordPress Self-hosted Blogs:

One important security precaution is to not use “admin” as your login/username. If you have been using admin, WordPress makes changing usernames difficult, but not impossible.

This video shows how to do it:

See more at this related blog post from wpbeginner.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas for developing your security plan. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or have any additional suggestions.

Let’s all have a safe blogging experience!


Example of a Security Plan

  1. Back up blog on the 30th every month
  2. Change username from admin to something safer
  3. Install a security plugin and update the settings
  4. Delete old plugins that might be vulnerable
  5. Find out what I need to do to convert my blogs from http to https and develop a plan to implement it.


Spring #Bloggiesta 2018: Time to Tidy Your Blog

Is your blog is disarray? Schedule lagging, to-dos building up, or feeling unorganized? Then join the Spring 2018 Bloggiesta from March 19-25 and tidy up your blog!

tidy your blog with bloggiesta

What is Bloggiesta?

Bloggiesta is an online party where you can find blog organization tips, take challenges to learn new things, and — best of all — meet some awesome bloggers!

If you are interested, post a to-do list like the one below and then link to the Spring Sign Up page. There is also more information to explore at the Bloggiesta blog.

My 2018 Bloggiesta To-Do List

  • Create a mini-challenge about blog security and post it. Blog security mini-challenge now posted.
  • Update the Bestseller Code 100 Reading Challenge Book List into October.
  • Participate in a Twitter party, particularly the one(s) on organization – well, I did go read the #bloggiesta hashtag on Twitter this morning.
  • Cross-post some reviews to GoodReads, etc. -This one will have to be done later.
  • Visit and comment on other Bloggiesta participants’ blogs If you didn’t see a comment from me either I couldn’t find your Bloggiesta post or for some reason I couldn’t post a comment. I did try.
  •  Revise this list as necessary –
  • Participate in other mini-challenges:
  1. The Labels, Categories, and Tags Mini-Challenge is something I didn’t even know I needed until I looked at my categories. Yikes! They need definitely need organizing. – Results now posted
  2. Juggling Life and a Blog has some great tips. I sometimes forget to keep a book at my side for down time. I’m too likely to check my social media instead. I need to use the time to read. Also, I keep saying I’m going to get my TBR under control. but it never seems to happens. (Now, where is the post-it note I wrote to myself about that?) (Update:  just read/listened to a wonderful article by Ann Patchett about how taking time to read can increase your ability to focus. Yes!)

Adding to my next Bloggiesta to-do list: (I’m posting these here to find when I create my next list)

  • Chapters and Charms suggested making some Tumblr-specific posts for Tumblr, which is an excellent idea I will blatantly steal and use for the next Bloggiesta.
  • Exploring new social media platforms:  I’ve noticed several bloggers have social media buttons that either I didn’t know you could have or have never heard of. I need to find out more.
  • Read X number of books and organize when to review each on a calendar.
  • Investigate making a Twitter thread

If you’re interested, I will be pinning to my Bloggiesta Wisdom Pinterest Board throughout the week.

Time to get busy.

Hope you all have a fun and productive Bloggiesta.


#BookBeginnings Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walker for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



Beautiful Ruins* by Jess Walker

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Touted both as literary and a historical romance, Beautiful Ruins follows the lives of five people, including Pasquale Tursi and a young movie star named Dee Moray, who meet by chance in an Italian village. Years later Pasquale comes to Hollywood to find her.

First Sentence:

April 1962

Porto Vergogna, Italy

The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly — in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.


I like how it introduces a character, setting, and tone all in one sentence.

Have you seen this book? The font is unusual in the paperback version. It is incredibly tiny and the text runs right to the edge of the page. It may be  challenging physically to read this one.

Have you read Beautiful Ruins?

Does the look of the page change your enjoyment of a book?

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Orphan Train tells the stories of two young “orphan” girls, Vivian and Molly.  Vivian’s story begins in New York City in 1929, months before the Black Friday stock market crash.  We learn of her voyage from Ireland with her family, the tragedy that leaves her essentially orphaned, and then follow her journey when she is placed on a train to the Midwest by the Children’s Aid Society in the hopes of finding a placement family.  Molly’s story of her early years with her parents and her subsequent journey through the foster care system in the present day intertwines with Vivian’s throughout the book.  As unlikely as it might seem, their stories are remarkably similar and creates an unexpected bond of friendship.

This post does not contain spoilers.


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Historical Fiction

 As Roberta mentioned in her Writer’s Review, Orphan Train is categorized as Historical Fiction.  Unlike Roberta, though, I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time.  One of the reasons I love historical fiction is that I often learn some previously unknown-to-me historical information, and Orphan Train certainly provided me with that.  I was unfamiliar with the Children’s Aid Society, a non-profit organization formed by Charles Loring Brace in 1853 to ensure the physical well-being of homeless children in New York City (not always orphans) and to provide them with the support and training needed to become successful adults.  Brace felt that placement with a family that could provide work, schooling, and a home situation would be more beneficial to the children than an institutional setting.  He came up with the idea of “orphan trains” – children were placed on a train with Children Aid Society chaperones and taken out of the city to various destinations across the country.  Notices were posted in the destination towns and when the trains arrived, the children were inspected and selected by the prospective foster families – often for the amount of work the child looked capable of handling or a specific talent, such as sewing, rather than for any altruistic desire to provide a loving home.  Baker’s descriptions of Vivian’s early placements with families exposed just how brutal and traumatic those placements could be.

The orphan trains sound like something out of dystopian novel, yet they really did happen.  Over the course of 76 years (the last train run was in 1929), more than 200,000 children rode the trains and began new lives.  Since they were required to leave any and all personal possessions behind, and many were given new first names by their foster or adoptive families, they truly were new lives, for better or worse.

The Children’s Aid Society (now called simply Children’s Aid) is still in existence, providing various support programs (medical, educational, legal, mental health, etc.) to NYC families and children, along with fostering and adoption options. Many of its child welfare programs were considered ground-breaking when begun but commonplace today.  The “fresh air” program is one that I was familiar with while growing up in upstate New York during the 1970s.  Several families I knew would have “fresh air” children from NYC staying with them during the summer.

Unlikely Friends

When we are first introduced to Vivian and Molly, they appear to have nothing in common.  Vivian inherited a business from her parents and she and her now-deceased husband were able to retire to a life of comfort and ease.  At the age of 90, she’s outlived her family and friends and is content to live an isolated life with a housekeeper to cook her meals and maintain the household.  Molly, on the other hand, has bounced around a few foster homes and feels that her current foster situation is tenuous, at best. She’d like to stay where she is currently placed until she “ages out” of the system in another few months, but her present foster mother isn’t really on board with her husband’s desire to foster.  More than once Molly pulls out her duffel bags and begins to pack her belongings while listening to her foster parents argue over whether to keep her.  Life is uncertain at best for Molly.

Molly and Vivian are brought together in a joint effort to clean out Vivian’s cluttered attic, and as Vivian reveals her life’s story bit by bit, Molly’s efforts to maintain an emotional distance from everyone in her life begin to fail.  Christina Baker Kline does a wonderful job of revealing the true essence of these two strong and capable women.

Take Away

Life is not always pleasant and rarely easy if you are an immigrant and/or an orphan child, no matter what time period you live in.  Both Vivian’s and Molly’s stories highlight that, as a child, you have no control and usually very little say over what the adults in your life decide for you.  Yet both of these young girls rise above the trials and traumas of childhood to become strong individuals.  I was struck by their resilience and tenacity.  Orphan Train also illustrates that even the smallest acts of kindness – providing a place to sleep for a few nights, a temporary job, or even just the gift of a book – can give hope and effect real change in the life of an individual, a message we should all take to heart.


Have you read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:


What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 64. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker (2012) – Discussion begins March 19, 2018

Genre:  Historical romance

Tucson Festival of Books 2018: Bright Spots and Broad Stokes

I’ve just returned from the Tucson Festival of Books 2018 and I’m a combination of exhausted and euphoric. What an awesome event!

Tucson Festival of Books


In case you’ve never heard of it, the Tucson Festival of Books is held on The University of Arizona® campus. It celebrates southwestern U.S. books and authors (for the most part, there are many exceptions) with panel discussions, workshops, and book signings. It is a wonderful place to discover new favorite authors, as well as to glean tidbits about the craft of writing. The festival organization and the venue are fantastic. plus it is free to attend. The only down side is that here are so many things to see and do, it is impossible to cover it all.

Bright Spots

A few authors stood out among the over 500 attending.

1. Author J. Todd Scott (a.k.a Todd Scott)

His newest novel, High White Sun, is coming out next week. It is a sequel to The Far Empty (previous review).

J. Todd Scott is currently working as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the DEA, but also manages to find the time to write exceptional novels set in west Texas.

As for his writing process, he mentioned that for his first novel he started out with a love for the raw beauty of his Texas setting, plus the first line of the novel. He didn’t have a plan or outline, but wrote his first draft straight through. In fact, he quoted E. L. Doctorow:

It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

It was good to see Todd Scott invited to speak on a panel. Most of the panels featured writers who were hawking their 6th or 12th or even 57th book. He’s already being taken seriously after one novel.

2. British poet and novelist Sophie Hannah

She discussed her newest, Keep Her Safe: A Novel.


Why is a British author at a southwestern book festival? Because Keep Her Safe takes place at a luxury resort in Arizona.

The story came from a real life incident where the hotel receptionist gave her the key to a room that had already been given to someone else. She was tired and disoriented when she entered, so didn’t realize the hotel receptionist’s mistake until the room’s occupant confronted her.  That is creepy enough, but afterwards she began to imagine what if she had seen something that she wasn’t supposed to see. She incorporated that idea into the book.

Sophie Hannah’s writing schedule is the best I’ve ever heard. For her latest novel, she wakes up around 8:30 a.m. Without getting out of bed, her husband brings her tea, a chocolate croissant, and her laptop, which she uses to write for three hours. Then she gets up and starts her day. My jaw has permanently dropped after hearing that.  It is the anti-matter version of my life.

3. Retired Police Captain Isabella Maldonado

Her debut novel is Blood’s Echo (A Veranda Cruz Mystery).


Isabella Maldonado (Judy Jance called her “Bella”) is another up and coming author. In her workshop, Writing Authentic Police Procedurals, Maldonado used examples from her experiences with the police force to illustrate how to write an authentic crime-based novel. Tidbits included that it is illegal for a police detective to talk about his or her case with someone outside the investigation, and that if a police officer is involved in a fatal shooting, he or she is “sidelined” for at least a month while under investigation.  She then suggested ways to circumvent the rules, or at least show you as an author understand them.

She also explained big city police forces often have layers of bureaucracy that are too complex to be portrayed realistically without potential confusion and a huge cast of characters. Again, she suggested ways to condense the bureaucracy while making it seem real.

With her extensive insider knowledge, I think she should write a nonfiction book on this topic.

Broad Strokes

In addition to all the great information about writing, it was also possible to make some generalizations about the readers who made up the audiences at the Tucson Festival of Books.

First of all, baby boomers love mystery, suspense, and crime. Whenever the panels where made up of mystery authors, the audience in the room skewed noticeably to the baby boomer generation. Based on what I heard from those sitting around me, plus the speakers, it seemed like a lot of the readers were initially influenced by Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. For example, Craig Johnson referred to an Agatha Christie book in his Longmire novel about a crime on a train. Sophie Hannah has been commissioned to write new novels featuring Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

Where were the younger readers and writers? They showed up for science fiction/speculative fiction/fantasy authors, as well as those who specialized in young adult. The early influences of these choices were less concrete, but I heard numerous references to Harry Potter books (one young author “sorted” her characters by which house they would belong to in Hogwarts), Hunger Games, and to a lesser extent, Game of Thrones.  It was not completely clear whether reading the books made the genres more popular, or the books were popular because the genres are.

In any case, the Tucson Festival of Books has a lot to offer for writer and reader alike. If you love books, you might want to put it on your calendar for March 2019.

#BookBeginnings Force of Nature by Jane Harper

This week we’ve chosen Force of Nature by Jane Harper for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



Force of Nature by Jane Harper

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Force of Nature was published in February 2018, but somehow I managed to snag a used copy at the bookstore. Yes! (That doesn’t happen very often.)

Summary:   “Five women go on a hike. Only four return.” Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk needs to find the missing woman, Alice Russell, because she is key to his latest case.

Aaron Falk was also the main character of Jane Harper’s previous novel, The Dry.

First Sentence of the Prologue:

Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things. One:  No one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell. And two:  Alice had a mean streak so sharp it could cut you.

First Sentence of Chapter One:

“Don’t panic.”

Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who until that moment had had no plans to do so, closed the book he had been reading.


First of all, isn’t that an incredible hook? Don’t you want to know what happened to the fifth hiker, the one who didn’t come back? The fact she had a mean streak makes it seem likely that foul play was involved, doesn’t it?

I love a novel with a powerful setting. Harper uses her bushland setting to create an ominous atmosphere.

I also like the wry humor of the first part of Chapter One

As a writer, I noticed right away that the first chapter has a lot more dialogue than her previous novel. The Dry had a lot of exposition, with sparse dialogue. I’m wondering how that will change the pacing.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Time to discuss the next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains spoilers.


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Niamh/Vivian moved with her parents from Ireland to New York City right before the Great Depression. When she loses her parents, she is put on an orphan train to the Midwest with the hope she will be taken in by a family along the way. A couple does take her in, but her journey is a rocky one. Much later in life she meets foster kid Molly Ayer. Although they are different in age, the two might have some common ground.

Genre:  Historical Fiction


There are two main characters in this novel.

Niamh/Vivian is primary main character and she narrates the historical timeline. Over the course of the novel she has different names, which reflect changes in her circumstances. As a child in Ireland, she is named Niamh Power. When she first arrives in Minnesota and she’s taken in by a couple, the woman of the house decides to call her Dorothy Nielsen. Later when another couple adopts her, she takes the name of the couple’s deceased child, Vivian Daly. Each time her name changes, it reveals how the process strips away her identity. When she gets on the train, she leaves behind not only a place, but also who she was.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer narrates the modern day timeline (2011). This works well because if Vivian narrated, the reader would learn about things that happened in the past out of order. By having Molly narrate, we discover events as Molly hears about them.

Molly’s father died and her mother spends most of her time in jail or prison, so Molly has been in a series of foster homes. She acts out at times. In fact, she meets Vivian because she needs to do community service for stealing a library book. Her teen character adds just the right touch of modern to the 2011 timeline.


Christina Baker Kline orphan Train

Public domain train image from Wikimedia


The novel begins in Spruce Harbor, Maine in 2011. It then travels back to New York City in 1929, where Niamh/Vivian’s family has arrived from Ireland. Before too long, tragedy strikes, and she finds herself on an orphan train headed to the Midwest.

The rest of the story alternates between Maine in 2011 and several locations in Minnesota.


Niamh’s grandmother gave her a claddagh cross necklace before she left Ireland. What happens to the necklace provides important symbolism in the story. Intertwined with the necklace is Niamh’s perception of her Irish grandmother, which changes as Niamh matures and understands adult relationships in a clearer way. I liked how that growing maturity reflected Niamh’s character arc.


Christina Baker Kline has taken on a number of challenges with Orphan Train. She has two main characters, two distinct timelines, and multiple settings to integrate into a single story. It’s a difficult juggling act, but the good news is that she has done an excellent job.

I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction, but this one was engaging. The piece of history Christina Baker Kline chose to reveal was a heartrending one. I admire the author’s ability to immerse the reader in another time, without unintentionally allowing things from the present day to crop in. The contrast between the two timelines was further enhanced by Molly’s narration.

Orphan Train moves forward in a smooth, consistent way, rather like a real train. It knows it’s destination and moves towards it without wandering off the track, taking the reader on an enjoyable and enlightening ride along the way.


Join us on social media:


What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 64. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker(2012) – Discussion begins March 19, 2018

Genre:  Historical romance

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